Online Computer Graphic Design Career Education Program Overviews

Get info about online graphic design courses and programs. Read about degree levels, program requirements, career options and course descriptions to find out if distance learning in this field is right for you.

Essential Information

Graphic design incorporates design software and computer graphics knowledge. Community colleges, private vocational schools and four-year institutions typically offer graphic design programs at the undergraduate certificate and degree levels, and several offer distance learning options. These programs are offered fully online, and graduates are usually prepared for entry-level graphic design positions. Online requirements include graphic design software, a scanner, and digital camera.

Program Options

All distance learners need a computer and stable Internet connection, but graphic design students must also have access to graphic design software programs. Some schools may advise online students to purchase subscriptions from software companies, which may offer a reduced cost to college students. It's important that individuals ensure their computers are up-to-date and can handle running these design programs. Students can expect to log on to virtual classrooms in order to obtain lectures, learning aids and assignments.

Undergraduate Certificates

Certificate programs are offered online through 2-year and 3-year vocational schools. Students develop the basic technical foundation and skill-set used in graphic design careers.

Course Topics

Certificate programs include career-oriented courses that can range from introductory to advanced, with personal enrichment courses in graphic design also available. Courses may include the following:

  • Color and design
  • Paper, inks and printing
  • Introduction to graphic design
  • Digital tools
  • Photoshop basics
  • Design and composition

Associate's Degree

Online associate's-level graphic design programs often allow students to structure their own schedule. The programs take two years to complete and help students develop skills in Web design, print media, packaging, branding and more. Many programs use online forums for discussion and study guides to provide constant access to educational resources for graphic design students.

Course Topics

The curriculum includes required core and liberal arts courses in areas such as communication, writing, art history and business. The program aids students in the creations of a portfolio. Graphic design students typically receive training in:

  • Fundamentals of graphic design
  • Photography
  • Composition
  • Package design
  • Art history through the 20th century

Bachelor's Degree

Students develop their individual graphic design style and artistic skills outside of a traditional classroom setting. These programs also allow students to present their graphic design assignments to their professor and classmates in an online format. In addition to the online materials, students may also need access to a scanner, computer software or a digital camera.

Course Topics

The online programs typically cover graphic design areas and the general education courses necessary for a well-rounded curriculum. These programs culminate in a portfolio of work. Most programs offer training through courses similar to the following:

  • Corporate identity
  • Graphic design internship
  • History of graphic design
  • Portfolio design
  • Environmental graphics

Career Information

Associate's degree graduates are prepared for entry-level assistant positions that require technical skills in graphic design.

Online baccalaureate programs prepare students for mid-level positions with newspapers, design studios, public relations firms or advertising agencies.

Continuing Education Information

Advanced online certificate programs in graphic design provide further training in theory and technique for graphic designers who are pursuing enhanced career opportunities.

Students who want to earn a certificate or undergraduate degree in computer graphic design can do so fully online, though some programs offer internships. The curriculum can include coursework in Photoshop basics, photography, and package design.

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